Being the first rally of the year, we were extremely anxious, as this was our first rally as Experts in the HRCR Championship. We arrived a day early so that we could sort out the car and visit the lovely Brantz team. We headed over to Macclesfield and had a tour of the Brantz workshop and it was interesting to see how the much-loved trip is developed. After an informative few hours, it was time to head to scrutineering.
Unfortunately the trip back to Chester didn’t go too well, as we were stopped at some traffic lights a car went into the back of us. The rear of our car had quite a bit of damage but luckily it was just visual, so we were still able to complete. Seren was a little shaken as it was her first incident, but otherwise we were fine and managed to continue back to scrutineering. By the time we arrived there was a massive queue, meaning that we would have a long wait to be seen, this was ok but it meant that we had to do the measured distance in the dark. As we now have more of an understanding of rallying, it didn’t take us long, and then it was back to the Bickerton Poacher pub for signing on and documentation.
Friday evening was spent plotting and I managed to get it all down quite quickly, which was a little worrying as I kept think that I must have missed something. Our dad was competing against us and had been seeded one place behind our car, much to our amusement, but this meant the pressure was on. Would we be able to beat him?
Saturday 7th March, had arrived and we were nervous about what the day would bring. After the bump the day before and it being the first rally of the year, we were a little worried. Off we went to the first tests at Beeston Cattle Market., a gravel forecourt lay in front of us, with cones dotted around. Seren looked like she was going to enjoy this – and she did! The back end was sliding out and we started under-steering around cones when we couldn’t get grip but we did complete the test faster than our Dad.
It was then time to hit the road for our first reg of the day, and I didn’t realise just how rusty I was. With numerous speed changes and tricky map sections, my timing was completely out and we managed to pick up multiple time penalties. I just hoped that I would warm into it. Seren quickly immersed herself back into the rally mode, but I struggled to calculate and wake my brain up. This was definitely the case in Delamere Forrest, the organisers had prepared a regularity that looked more like an intricate test around cones. When we came across KK cones, I didn’t know what to say and Seren ended up looking herself, Amazingly we were running early and only collected seconds at this point.
The 3rd test of the day was my favourite, I explained to Seren that we needed to hairpin back left immediately after cone ‘I’, which was after a puddle. However, once on the test I soon realised we needed to turn in the puddle and yelled ‘turn left, turn left’. Seren listened, but as I had left my window open, I ended up having a shower in muddy water, much to my dismay
By lunchtime we seemed to be back in the rallying zone again and we were running the tests 1 second faster than our Dad. We were so pleased, but then again we did have a bigger engine.
There was no rest at lunch though as we needed to plot the next few regularities, and to throw us off, they used Welsh. However, some of us noticed the key at the front and we were able to continue plotting and comparing. Then it was back on the road to follow the recently plotted route.
The final few regs, seemed pretty straightforward until I thought we were on time but we picked up 30 seconds at a control. I then noticed I had calculated it wrong and had pressed the timer too late at the last speed change. On the Tour of Cheshire you get a Joker, which eliminates your worst lateness on a reg. I like to call it the navigator’s eraser as it rubs out your worst time on a regularity if you get baulked or your brain is having a non-thinking moment. This saved us here as it scrubbed out our 30 seconds penalty.
Overall, it was an extremely fun rally where we were able to get our heads back in the game, ready for the next one. I loved how the test scoring was changed to class points as opposed to the time, as it meant you weren’t completely discriminated if you had a slower car, and kept you in the running of doing well. That is exactly what it did for us when we finished 15th overall and 3rd in class.